Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Universities and inventors doing their bit

Nov 13. 2011
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By The Nation

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Range of products developed for flood victims

With more than 40 people having lost their lives due to fatal electric shocks during the worst flood crisis in decades, this risk has become a serious issue. It has drawn a lot of attention from people in flooded areas, anxious – understandably – to prevent themselves suffering a similar fate.

Maybe it’s time for universities – the agencies that house a lot of knowledge – to lend a hand, by inventing different utensils or objects that can be used during flooding to ease victims’ troubles.
King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi (KMUTT) has successfully invented thousands of items of equipment that can be used to test water for dangerous electrical current.
As many as 5,000 plastic tubes equipped with circuitry to test the electrical current in water were completed last week thanks to overwhelming help from volunteers. With voluntary assistance, KMUTT was able to produce 1,000 pieces a day (up from 100) until it reached the 5,000 pieces targeted.
Each of the tubes can test electrical leaks in a radius of two metres and when it finds a leak, a small fluorescent bulb is activated. 
About 3,000 of these detectors have been distributed for free to people in need and agencies doing flood assistance missions after about 6,000 people submitted a requests for them. 
Anyone wanting to know about the university’s assistance and voluntary activities can go to www.facebook.com/maicheckfirerua or call 02 470 9999.
King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang (KMITL), meanwhile, has a “FloodDuck”, which can be used for the same purpose as the KMUTT tubes.
The FloodDuck is a cylindrical plastic case capped with a yellow duck containing circuitry that can float well away on its own in search of electrical leaks.
If the FloodDuck finds anything, from 10 to 220 volts, its red LED light is activated.
KMUTL has created 1,000 of the ducks and given them to hospitals, staff at the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, the Army, and to rescue squads.
Electrical leak test equipment also has been invented by Chulalongkorn University. 
During floods, contaminated water has been threatening people’s health, too. 
So, several universities have come up with great ideas to invent water filters.
Chulalongkorn University (CU) has created more than 1,000 portable water filtration kits. Each kit has aluminium chlorohydrate to precipitate sediment, chlorine to kill germs and a water filter equipped with activated charcoal to make the water clearer and cleaner. 
Kasetsart University has also created a “Mobile Aqua Purifier” to change floodwater to usable and drinkable water. One purifier that costs Bt16,500 can produce 120 litres of usable water per hour while it takes an hour to produce 30 litres of drinkable water.
Meanwhile, Prince of Songkla University (PSU) has shown its membrane-technology water filters with 0.3 micron ceramic filter elements that were used in November last year to produce 100,000 bottles of drinking water to help flood victims in Hat Yai. Each costs Bt2,000 and can filter 30 litres of water in an hour. 
The main force of membrane technology is the fact that it works without the addition of chemicals, with relatively low energy use and easy and well-arranged process conductions.
Mahanakorn University of Technology also has water filters that use simple technology – ceramic elements and activated charcoal. One filter can produce five litres of usable water in half a minute. 
Even defecating – going to the toilet – has become a big issue when toilets are under water. 
A group of alumni from CU and University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce have designed “Judnak” bag – an instant biodegradable toilet. With Judnak bags people can do their business virtually anytime and anywhere. After they put quicklime in to kill germs and tie up the top of the bags, which can be put into a “Judtem”, a larger version of the biodegradable bag; it can keep many Judnak bags. These can stay nearby during the inundation or be buried if people have a chance to do this. They are designed to “disappear” within six months.
But, these bags are not available for individuals, only organisations that work directly with flood victims. Thousands of packages have been donated to concerned organisations.
KMUTT has biodegradable bags as well. Its bags can quickly biodegrade. The university has provided a chemical substance, Zeolite, to kill germs and neutralise unwanted odours. 
To cure the disease athlete’s foot, which people often get in a flood, Srinakharinwirot University has provided balms to help people and soldiers who have to work in flood water on assistance missions. 
Around 4,000 caskets of balm have been produced. The university has also offered 400 bottles of citronella oil, a mosquito repellent.
Phayao University has offered more kinds of medicines, including calamine lotion, balm, alcohol hand gel, a cream for fungal infections on skin, plus mosquito repellent. 
Even a university from a southernmost province, PSU, Pattani campus, has presented an edible invention to help flood victims.
The campus’ canned Massaman curry with chicken can be kept as long as two years. Around 1,000 cans have been sent to affected people in many provinces. 

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